Business & Technology

Something New Under the Sun

PG&E signs first-of-a-kind space solar power deal

Not many people I know think space solar is a low-cost, scalable solution. Certainly it is worth pursuing any genuine low-carbon baseload power source if it can be practical and scalable — and affordable, which I would put at $0.15 a kilowatt hour or less for.  The problem with space solar is that, like hydrogen fuel-cell cars, there is little chance it could be affordable until it is massively scaled up — and no guarantee that it would be practical and affordable even then.  That’s one reason major utilities have been unwilling to take the risk on it. Until now. …

Why the CDM should matter to the United States

A hot-blooded Spanish creature like me can get into an argument relatively easily, and I’m not afraid to argue strongly about what I know and/or believe. Can you picture Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona when she argues with Javier Bardem? Yep, that’s me! In the last four months here in the United States, I have attended quite a few conferences, gatherings, meetings, cocktails, you name it. At all of them I have found myself discussing carbon offsets, specifically the contribution of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) — the project-based market mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol that channels foreign investment …

Eat the rich with organic greens

Let millionaires pay to solve our twin environmental and economic crises

Economic and environmental problems are two consequences of one mistake, a mistake every farmer used to know the folly of: eating our seed corn

lies, damned lies and statistics

Adventures in the FUD-osphere

Don’t FUD it upImage: psdFDR must have been talking about the Internet when he famously said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Everywhere you turn there is another study raising some new hazard and questioning some baseline assumption about how our society lives, eats or fuels itself. And then in short order, another study appears questioning the conclusions of the first — leaving us all full of nothing but FUD. FUD, of course, stands for the bedrock principles of a depressingly large segment of corporations (and politicians) — Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. The concept may go back as …

Sunny City Up

America’s first solar city, from a former NFL player

An architect’s rendering of Babcock Ranch, the solar-powered city planned east of Fort Myers.Kitson and PartnersFlorida developer and former NFL lineman Syd Kitson sent out a coy press release Wednesday promising the biggest news in the history of press releases, to be revealed Thursday. And in truth … it’s sort of a big deal. The housing collapse be damned, Kitson & Partners announces it will build a planned city near Fort Meyers with 19,500 homes, offices, retail shops, and light industry. Its electricity will come from the world’s largest solar voltaic power plant, a $300 million, 75-megawatt plant to be …

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Don’t buy Kimberly-Clark’s latest ruse

If a huge coal power plant goes next door and sets up a cute little boutique collection of five solar panels, have your basic feelings about that giant coal power plant changed? Probably not. After all, you’re reading Grist. But what if said coal company releases advertisements announcing that they’ve “gone solar,” complete with misleading close-up pics of those cute solar panels? Enough people might fall for it to make the ads worthwhile. Call it the cute little dollhouse effect: a nasty company builds a cute, green dollhouse version of their house, takes misleading pics suggesting that the dollhouse is …

A Clarity Day

Hydrogen fuel-cell car wins 2009 World Green Car award

Honda FCX Clarity.Photo courtesy of the New York International Auto Show.Is the Honda FCX Clarity really the world’s greenest car? According to the world’s leading automotive journalists, it is. Thursday morning they gave the hydrogen-fueled Clarity the World Green Car award at the New York auto show. But at my table, after the award was announced, there was a collective response of, huh? Auto show awards can often serve more for PR purposes than as actual testaments of a vehicle’s merit, but it was still a surprise when the hydrogen-fueled Clarity bested the electric Mitsubishi iMiev and the super fuel-efficient …

It's hot. It's cool. It's a box.

Kyoto stove wins $75,000 FT climate change innovation competition

We all hate packaging, but the Kyoto box is that rare thing — a cardboard carton that’s part of the solution. It’s also the winner of Forum for the Future’s Climate Challenge competition with HP and the Financial Times to find the year’s best climate change-tackling innovation. After voting by FT readers and mulling over by an eminent panel including Eileen Claussen and Rajendra Pachauri, it’s the Kyoto box, a solar-powered cardboard cooker that will take away the $75,000 prize. It’s aimed at the 3 billion people who use firewood to cook, and in the words of Kenya-based Jon Bøhmer, …

Digging deep for green power

Drill, baby, drill

A veteran of the Manhattan Project is developing technology that could make it easier to tap geothermal energy locked deep underground. Potter Drilling It’s the archetypal Silicon Valley story: Unknown entrepreneur toils away on a Big Idea in an anonymous office park until discovered by one of the Valley’s legendary deep-pocketed investors. Another boy wonder CEO hatching the next Twitter or Facebook? Not quite. Meet Bob Potter, 88. He started his hardware company when he was just 83 with technology that grew out of his work on the Manhattan Project (yes, that Manhattan Project) back in the 1940s at Los …